Killings of unarmed Black people at the hands of police are all too common in our country; the growing list of names makes it increasingly clear that the problem is serious and far-reaching. Now, an all-new one-hour Dateline special entitled, What Happened to Anton Black? investigates the circumstances surrounding a young Black man who died in police custody and the officer who responded to the call on the last day of Black’s life.
The special, hosted by Lester Holt, tells the story of Anton Black, a 19-year-old Black man who died in front of his home in Greensboro, Maryland when police responded to a 911 call back in 2018. Black’s case didn’t get much national attention at the time. But as Holt explains, his story was revived in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020.
Through interviews with Anton’s parents, older sister and a close family friend, viewers learn more about the young man who was a standout athlete and aspiring model. But on the last day of his life, the 19-year-old, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was chased through the streets of his hometown by police responding to a 911 call from bystanders who witnessed Black roughhousing with a 12-year-old boy. The officers were unaware that Black and the boy had known each other for years.
Police body cam footage shows officers and a civilian restraining an unarmed Black in front of his home as his mother watches helplessly. The young man calls out for help until his body goes limp. But what is even more disturbing about Black’s case is that one of the responding officers had a troubling past. Officer Thomas Webster was charged with second-degree assault after body cam footage showed him kicking a Black man while working as a police officer in Delaware in 2013. And if all of that wasn’t enough, after an autopsy, the medical examiner declared Black’s death an accident, and no charges were filed against the officers who restrained him.
What Happened to Anton Black? takes an important look at community policing and whether police should be responding to mental health calls The all-new special airs Friday, August 5 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.